I have read countless reviews before and after our travels and I have come to realize that unless the majority of reviewers echo the same comments, then you really just have to do some research beforehand and make the best of everything that you encounter during your trip. A lot of people tend to exaggerate the bad, over-praise the good and make mountains out of molehills! (i.e. "the food was inedible" or "the drinks the worst ever tasted"). I will try to convey what we found and give you enough feedback to answer the most concerned areas for travellers. This is our 5 trip to the Riviera Maya area in the past 12 years. (each one at a different resort)
We had a party of 8 adults (46-60) travel from Vancouver via Air Transat on Jan. 28/13 for a 14 night stay at the Grand Sirenis Riviera Maya. One couple booked Club Class seats and the rest of us booked Options Plus. Good info on their website and we found good value for our dollar. (Especially the extra checked baggage allowance as we had a 14 day vacation!) Air Transat was excellent with service, ammenities and comfort. Once arriving in Cancun we had booked USA Transfers to shuttle us to the GSR and back instead of taking the included Nolit Tours airport transfers that were included in our package. The reason being that with 8 of us, we got private, direct van service for a total of 160.00USD. We were at the resort and checked in long before the bus arrived, and even though we left the resort after the bus did on our return to the airport, we still arrived ahead of it and were checked in with our flight before the line up arrived! We have used USA Transfers 3 times now and will continue to do so! (Check out their website. They are known as Entertaimnment Plus.)
Checkin at the GSR was as expected. Even though we had 2 couples that were returning guests who were previously told they would be entitled to an "upgrade" we found out that all 4 couples were in 4 seperate buildings...3 rooms on the Mayan Riviera side and one room on the Mayan Beach side. Knowing that room requests are never assured, I had followed up after booking with our travel agent with Mr. Carlos Balam Santos with the reservations department at the GSR and asked him to confirm our requests of third floor rooms, king beds and all 4 rooms fairly close together. My first email to him was sent on Nov. 4/12 and I got a reply on Jan 12/13 just 15 days before our departure! (lol) The reason I said that check in was "as expected" is we found that the larger the group that you are with, the least it seems to matter regarding your requests! As we had returning guests that were not happy with the room selections, it took some politefull yet firm discussions with a reception supervisor in order for us to have our rooms all located in one building. We were in building 19 which is probably the best for location on the Riviera Maya side of the resort. We were all transfered by shuttle to our rooms with our luggage following immediatley after. Bell staff (Rigo) and everyone else curbside was awesome with service and help!
ROOMS: Large junior suites. The only upgrade you can receive is "ocean view" which some get charged 20 or 30USD per room per night up to 60USD per night. (building location far more important that paying for "view" upgrade in my opinion!) Large bathroom with walk in 2 person shower (overhead spray, hand-held spray and full body spray) with shower gel and shampoo dispensers mounted for your use. Toilet stall with frosted glass door. Single vanity with coutertop, wall-mounted makeup mirror and 1200w hairdryer. Large jetted tub that looks through large opening into main sleeping/sitting quarters. Not a problem for a normal couple, but if you want any privacy once out of the shower, it ain't happening! (Of course we were OK with it as I always like to give my lovely wife a "woo-woo" when towelling off! Now you know the "type" of person writing this review!) Decent closet space. A few storage drawers. Pull out sofa, single chair and round coffee table in sitting area. In room safe, coffee maker, minibar fridge with beer, soda and water as well as a 3lt bottle of water daily. AC and lighting runs by placing one of your room card keys into the slot inside the door and we left on in 24/7 as I liked our AC to have the room cooled before I return to it. It was adequate. Lighting was decent. TV is about a 27" older analog projection type but did the trick for the limited time we caught up with some late night or morning CNN or FOX news. Housekeeping did a great job on a daily basis. We always left 5USD and a few souveniers each day on our pillow. There are always some inconsistencies. (one day no facecloths, one day no coffee) Haven't found a 4+ resort in Mexico yet that has been top notch in this area. If I really want the "heavenly bed" and thicker pillows then I'll go to Vegas or some upscale hotel at $200 night and I'll get it! Even ran out of shower gel and after is was not refilled the next day, I took the dispenser off of the shower wall, put it on the floor and housekeeping put it back up when they did our room up, but they left it empty! Those type of things really irk some people, but to be honest with you, I almost find them amusing! Small balcony with a table and 2 chairs and a clothesline for each room. If any of our party had any room issues, each building has their own concierge desk in it that is staffed from 7:30am-7pm daily. Our main contacts were Blanca and Isway and they were helpful, engaging and wonderful each and every day!
BEACH: Lots of loungers. Lots of sandy area. Rocky areas entering the water in most places, but negotiable. Jet skis for rent, kayaks and snorkle gear. We brought our own snorkle gear for this resort and it was awesome to snorkel in one of the bays and see a variety of fish, turtles coral and the like each and every time. You can take a banana into the water (3-4ft deep) and you will be surrounded by fish...(and a few gulls!)
A lazy "river" to float in with a tube. (yes they could use more tubes! 24 is what I counted) Takes about 10 min. We got up and staked out pool lounge chairs each morning at 7am. There was always some available it seemed and our capacity was over 90%. We would go for a coffee, meet up with our ladies about 8:30am for breakfast and then hit the loungers! We used the "pary" pool adjacent to the Ranchero restaurant daily and it was a blast. Drink service around the pool (Karen and Paulina...you're wonderful!) The swim up bar always has a shady side and a sunny side. Great variety of drinks. Too weak? I DON'T THINK SO! (At least my brother in law doesn't!) Hahaha! Diego and Ibanue were awesome! When they weren't busy (which didn't happen often!) I was able to have some great conversations regarding themselves and the life and surroundings of a resort bartender! I tipped them often and gave good final tip when I had my last drink and said goodbye. Oscar and the entertainment/animation team work hard and keep the energy level up. A typical day starts with water polo at 10am, water aerobics at 11:30am, poolside dance lessons after that, song trivia challenge and a poolside challenge game in the afternoon finished off with tequila volleyball at 3pm and them one final game. No issues with the water, cleanliness or surrounding. As others have stated, very slippery floors in your room when wet, the poolside restrooms (which are kept very clean) or any other marbled area. Very dangerous in bare feet. Always wear some rubber flip-flops or something!
SPA: We all had a free 90min water therapy spa circuit per room at their spa which all the gals took part in. They loved it so much, we ALL booked the circuit spa on a later day and the gals took part again. It was wonderful. One of our party had a few full body massages as well which he enjoyed. Yane (jonny?) was super in explaining your way through the different stages!
DRINKS: Good variety of your typical tropical variety as well as just about anything else you could ask for. Better top shelf liquor at the lobby bars. Bartenders and serving staff were ALWAYS wonderful. Drop a dollar or two and THANK them. It goes a long way and they really appreciate your sincerity. I have noticed "indifferent" service to some patrons the odd time, but that is because they had to deal with a guest who was either very demanding, rude or obnoxious. Never EVER happened with any of us!
FOOD: Buffet restaurants were quite good. The service staff was usually very good and made sure your drinks were looked after and your used dishes were cleared away. Breakfast is far more choice than you would ever have at home. If there were any complaints, it would be that one morning there were on bananas available and I asked one of the staff and he said "sorry...not today". I walked over to the main buffet restaurant, (we were in the poolside one) grabbed a bunch from their display of about 500 and brought them back for our table! No Problemo if u know what to do! Each morning in each restaurant they were making fresh buns, croissants, baguettes and buns as well as cooking eggs to order, omlettes to order and pancakes and waffles. Along with the other 100+ items to choos from, if someone complained that breakfast was no good...well...then they are just an idiot! Case closed!
Lunch: Poolside, down at the beach bar or in the main buffet gave a great variety of choices. Always something freshly grilled and yes, at times I think some of the pans in the hot case were sitting a little too long as their quality was diminishing. Temperature for hot and cold items was well monitored and maintained at all times. Dinner was themed each night and we enjoyed the decor and food that was offered with each theme.
ALA CARTE RESTAURANTS: We enjoyed the Cajun, Italian, Medeteranean, Steakhouse, Japanese and especially the Brazillian! Roger (Captain in the Japanese at night and El Ranchero buffet in the day) was excellent in helping my wife with gluten free options. One other dining room captain in the Tulum Buffet was excellent in assisting as well. Most ala cartes started with selections from the salad bar which were self serve and then your menu entree choice was served tableside along with dessert and coffee/drinks to follow. Some choices were better than others, but by far, nothing "bad" or undesireable at all!
ENTERTAINMENT: The animation team was super! Oscar, Shy, Sophia, Zeus, Jose and everyone else worked VERY VERY hard to engage and entertain us on a daily and nightly basis. The shows in the theatre each night were from OK to super-duper! The biggest difference at the GSR is that they have a very talented 6 piece band that plays all kinds of music instead of the canned tunes you usually get in the evening. Along with them are some very talented singers that performed live each night and kept the li-syncing to a minimum. Their night of Rock Review through the years was top-notch!
EXCURSIONS: Do the research before you leave home! Want to got to Xel-ha or Xcaret for the day? You can often just take a cab from the hotel, pay the entrance fee and cab it back cheaper than the "all-inclusive" package offered by many companies. You have convenience of your own timetable as well as cost saving to be had. With a party of 8, we found sharing a taxi (10 passenger vans) was a cheap and convenient way to go. Collectivos along the higway are cheaper by far (3.00USD per person) but not convenient for 8 of us. Akumal Public Beach is a great morning or afternoon excursion that you can do on your own and well worth it. Great snorkeling with turtles, stingrays, barracudas and everything else. Playa del Carmen has grown over the years, yet there is a lot of good shopping for souveniers etc either in the "fixed price" stores or with the local vendors that you can barter with. If you want to buy cigars or jewellery of any kind, do some homework first before you go. There are far more fakes, clones simulated items on the market than real. If you think you are buying real Cohibas for $5 or a silver necklace for $10 that is "guaranteed 100% real, my freind!" then give your head a shake! There are good deals, but know what you are looking for!
I do have to say that we enjoyed other resorts more than the Grand Sirenis, but in saying that, we enjoyed the Akumal area for the first time.
The biggest tip that I can offer travellers is this. Treat the staff with respect and a smile. (Kind of like YOU like to be treated!) Look at their name tag and address them by name. If you can't pronounce their name, ask them how to say it. They will be happy to engage you! Even if you have a concern of problem, you get far more flies with honey than you do with vinegar! We found that it wasn't the few dollars that we tipped that made a difference, it is how we acted. Don't forget that most of the staff works 6 days a week, from 8-14 hours a day and they are happy to be there and have a job making your vacation as good as they can. Spread a few dollars around, give a compliment for good service and don't sweat the small stuff! You get to decide if you are going to make the most of your vacation or not. If I let all the little things bother me like some people do, I would never go on vacation...I would just stay home and complain about everything else in life! Life is too short! Enjoy it with family and friends. You are welcome to contact me in regards to any questions you may have. I will respond promptly and hopefully your travels will be rewarding as ours are!
Mayan Riviera Side buliding 19 (even ground floor rooms are excellent!) or building 18 or great.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Hi coolnorth, I would like to thank you for your comprehensive, step-by-step review on your vacation with us. It really shows that you and your party explored all the possibilities that Grand Sirenis has to offer: all different food options, entertainment, beach, pools, SPA… as well as the surrounding areas. I am particularly glad to read that our staff was helpful and kind when assisting you.
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Regarding rooming requests, we always try to accommodate all of them if occupancy allows for it, let me tell you that this is done just a few days prior to check-in, as it is not possible for us to foresee months in advance as some rooms might require maintenance or be unavailable for some other reason. Big groups are definitely not looked down on, but just more difficult to accommodate. Anyway, I am glad to read that you and your family we finally accommodated together, and offer my apology for any inconvenience this delay may have caused.
Thank you again for your detailed review on your stay with us. Wishing you the best, and looking forward to see you soon at Grand Sirenis. Daniel – Assistant Manager
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.